ring wraith (he and his dad are currently into the second book of The Lord of the Rings)
seriously, when she said she wanted to go as a book, I had no idea which book she had in mind
butterfly in flight
and the knight is the last to emerge
This was the actual order in which they exited the house.
The ring wraith left early to meet a friend. They’d already plotted their route to maximize candy gathering.
The book also trick-or-treated with friends, and stayed out latest of all. She arrived home saying her favourite house was the one where she heard adults on the porch saying, “Hey, it’s The Juliet Stories! Isn’t it up for a prize or something? I heard the writer lives in our neighbourhood!” And then she was proud to tell them: “My mom wrote this book.” She was hampered, however, by the costume design, which went down a little long in the legs, making step-climbing tricky. (And I worried that neighbours might suspect I’d sent my kid out as a walking billboard …)
The butterfly and the knight came with me and some friends.
There is a great article on the joy of Halloween in the Globe and Mail this morning (which I’m still reading despite resident-books-writer John Barber’s seemingly bottomless dislike for contemporary Canadian book publishing). I felt the Halloween magic yesterday evening. The decorated houses, the efforts to entertain and welcome. Children knocking on strangers’ doors and receiving compliments and candy.
The butterfly and I outlasted the knight, and made an effort to visit our nearest neighbours, who don’t get many trick-or-treaters. Our street is busy with traffic, and it is populated by more of a mixed crowd than the family-oriented streets that surround us: students, the elderly, people who have lived here for decades and haven’t renovated their kitchens and never will. We knocked on some doors I wasn’t sure about, even with the porch lights shining. And at every one we were greeted with welcome and kind words — and treats. The students who had dressed up their cat as Superman. The man whose wife came quickly to tell him what to do with Fooey’s treat bag, which he’d taken into his own hands, and stared into as if trying to decipher its purpose. The neighbour who recognized me from the article in the Chronicle and said, “You wrote a book?” as if he were saying, “You’ve been to the moon?”
Back at home the candy-eating and sorting was well underway. Our littlest ate candy like I’ve never seen a child eat candy. He just didn’t stop. I was entranced by his enormous appetite for chewy faux-fruit-flavoured sweets and I stood by his stool watching him with amazement and, I’ll admit it, admiration. When apparently, as evidence would show, I really should have stopped him.
Parenting fail. Yes, parents of four can make rookie mistakes on the last kid. How were we to know? Our other kids have all shown restraint, over the years. Not one of them has ever eaten themselves sick. Which is exactly what happened to CJ last night: he ate himself sick. Even when we declared it cut-off time for candy-eating, he would have gone on; but then he rolled off his stool and collapsed to the floor, holding his tummy. “It hurts!”
I tucked him into bed, hoping he’d wake up feeling better. But instead he woke up feeling worse. It was one o’clock in the morning. I won’t paint the scene for you, but suffice it to say, his stomach didn’t even bother trying to digest those masses of chewy faux-fruit-flavoured sweets. The cleanup took a long time. And then I got up early for spin class. Ouch. This is not an error we intend to make more than once.
At least he felt instantly better.
my favourite photo of the evening, which sums up the agony and ecstasy of excess: view on Flickr for full scene
Yesterday evening, a weird thing happened.
None of us had anything we had to do, there was nowhere we had to be, and nothing was scheduled. Giddy with freedom, I neglected to make supper until very late (and then I had Kevin grill stuff on the BBQ). We ate at a leisurely pace. A normal, human, conversational pace. It was pleasant, a treat; but I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was sitting there, filled up, contemplating the next step — dishes and laundry — when it occurred to me that on this evening of nothing to do, I was too tired to do anything. I was crashing. I mumbled something to the effect to Kevin: must lie down. Staggered to the couch, napped for a few minutes, and then for a few minutes more.
Finally, I arose and conquered dishes and laundry.
But I was so tired. It was almost as if, in the absence of having to keep going, having to maintain energy and momentum, my body figured it could just quit. And so it did.
A confession: I’m having trouble maintaining my early morning exercise; I was down to two mornings this week and last. Unless I’m meeting someone, I’m choosing not to drag myself out of bed. Partly it’s the evening activities, partly it’s the late-night reading (first it was the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and now it’s Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which has me gasping every other page — have you read it? I realize I’ve come to it late, and it’s been out for years, but it’s one of those memoirs that could not have been fiction because a) it wouldn’t have seemed real, and b) audiences would have despised the creative mind who thought it up. Anyway, it’s pretty close to brilliant, and I’m loving it, and therefore can’t put it down).
That was a long aside.
This week has been good preparation for summer holidays. On Monday, my babysitter was sick, so instead of spending a full day at my writing desk, I got the morning followed by an afternoon with two four-year-olds; who were delightful and spent an hour enjoying lunch, I must add; but still. It wasn’t quite the same. On Tuesday, Fooey felt sick, so she stayed home. By lunchtime, our numbers were up to three kids versus one mom (I was babysitting CJ’s friend again). It was hard not to feel resentful — my quiet house filled up with noise.
But then I realized: this is just a taste of SUMMER. I’ve arranged for babysitting during most days, and that’s wonderful; but I work from a HOME OFFICE, and the children will be AT HOME. The quiet and privacy that is this beautiful humid sunny glorious Thursday morning is a total luxury.
I’m mostly awake. I’m savouring it.
the face of an Easter egg hunter, worried she’s missing something that somebody else might have found first
This week is ever so slightly refusing to start afresh.
I find long weekends disruptive, being the one at home handling the children (or even sharing the handling). It’s out of my routine. And I’m a routine-centred person. Yesterday the kids were home; Kevin was not. But work went on. At least, I attempted to work. I sent emails. I did an interview. I was absolutely buried in mountains of laundry. I baked bread. I let the kids run wild. I let them play wii for way too long. There were playdates. I was just scarcely paying enough attention. Everything turned out fine.
But, oh, I was so looking forward to today.
And then, just as the kids were putting on coats and boots and packing school bags this morning, literally minutes before my week was due to begin afresh, the child pictured above announced that she couldn’t go. Her tummy hurt. An ache? Nausea? Pain? What exactly? Was it truly school-missing-worthy? She insisted. Finally, I accepted. After all, I didn’t want to send a sick child to school. So here she is at home, with me, in my office right now, wandering the small space, alternately curling in the chair, making the stool squeak as she tries to twirl it, and asking whether she might, just maybe, watch a movie??
Um, no. No rewards offered for missing school. No incentives to repeat this act tomorrow. Is she sick? I’m not sure. If so, she’s not very sick. For which I am appreciative. Tomorrow is another day. I hope to heck we can start the week afresh then. Mama needs some alone-time.
more Easter egg hunters, concerned they might be missing out
(These photos crack me up. Instead of capturing delighted little faces, my camera seemed to have grabbed expressions of vague anxiety and concern: Someone else might be finding something that I want! There were comparisons of basket contents, and much discussion (okay, argument) over how many eggs everyone should be allowed to find. And, in CJ’s case, there was a sort of puzzlement, like: Is this egg all there is? Really? This is what I’ve been looking for?)
but he looks pretty cute here
Who’s house is that? We pushed the sofa away from the wall for a poetry book club a couple of weeks ago, and never pushed it back again. Furniture in the middle of the room … who knew? It makes for a cozy seating area with space for piano practice and the art table behind it. I still don’t have a decent location for the piano books, but someday. Someday.
I’m operating on a hopeful mission to sort out and tidy every drawer and surface in the house. And also to keep the bathrooms/kitchen clean. My strategy involves doing it when I see it needs doing. In practice that means I was cleaning out the bottom drawer of the fridge on Monday evening while unloading our Bailey’s food. The idea, borrowed from my friend Rebecca’s blog, is to ask: Do I have five minutes? Usually these minor cleaning tasks take only a few minutes. And I almost always have five minutes. I also found five minutes, which stretched to a few more, to scrub mold off the grout in the shower one evening last week. Just what one feels like doing after tucking the kids in, let me tell you, but that’s when I noticed the mold. Did I have five minutes? I did. We use baking soda and vinegar as cleaning agents, and as I scrubbed and scrubbed (using an old toothbrush) I found myself reminiscing about the Old Dutch cleanser my mom used to use, which would remove a layer of skin from your hands but sure got the tiles sparkling in a jiffy. Advice from fellow green-cleaners out there? Is the secret all in the elbow grease and the lowered standards?
If I’m talking a lot about the house, it’s because this has been a housebound week, high on domestic necessities. My girl is still sick. We will be heading to see the doctor shortly.
I don’t function well in housebound mode (and for the record, yes, my office is at home, but my office does not make me feel housebound). I don’t function well on interrupted sleep. I get grumpy. It’s fair to no one, but by 6pm, on a day when I’ve been doing nothing but scrubbing grout with a toothbrush, preparing meals, cleaning up from meals, entertaining sick children, worrying about sick children, and ferrying other children with sick child in tow to after-school activities — by 6pm I’m liable to bite someone’s head off. Usually my husband’s. Because by 6pm he’s around, that’s why. And he’s not a kid. Yup. Totally unfair.
I’ve been enjoying reading the latest issue of Brain, Child magazine, which has a piece on whether or not mothers complain too much about motherhood these days. Do we? Do I? Or should I really be complaining more? I wonder sometimes whether I get the balance right: truth-telling, accurate reporting of on-the-job realities mingled with gratitude. I do feel some discomfort about being a “mommy blogger” … about presenting my family’s life in some ideal package or inducing guilt in any other mother out there who doesn’t have time (or the interest) to make homemade food or who drives instead of making her kids walk to school or etc. I think we’re all trying our best. We have good intentions. We make mistakes. Life isn’t perfect. And “mother” might just be the most judged and criticized role any of us could have chosen to take on, but that didn’t stop us, so there’s bravery right there.
And I’m rambling.
And it’s time to go.
She slept in late after a restless night. She still has a fever, so I kept her home sick. But as soon as she got up, she saw the snow. She’s been playing outside for over an hour. I just peeked, and she’s working on turning the snow fort into a snowperson. Nope, make that snowpeople! “I made a snow angel, too.”
It is raining when it should be snowing this morning. I am wearing pajamas and listening to Christmas carols being played on the piano. That probably sounds more romantic than it actually is. Life often does in Blogland. But that’s another topic for another post.
Yesterday’s going to take some recovery time. But I don’t mind. Welcome to our recovery Sunday.
Yesterday was a long and well-coordinated day right up until our youngest daughter had a nosebleed while we were out at a restaurant. Suddenly it got a whole lot longer and slightly less coordinated. On the way to the hospital, Kevin reminded me to drive safely and I assured him it was fine because “I always tail-gate slow drivers.” (I was ever so slightly resenting how calm he remained — not that that’s a bad thing in such situations, but I kind of wished I weren’t the only one freaking out, if you know what I mean. It would have made me feel less like I was freaking out.) The good news is that her nose bleed had stopped by the time we got to emerg, and lest you think we’re alarmist parents, we sat at the pho restaurant for about 15 minutes waiting for it to slow, which seemed negligent, until the nurse at the hospital told me we could have waiting 45 minutes. Did you know that?? I mean, the nose was pouring. I hope you’re not eating. Luckily both grandmas were with us at the restaurant so Kev and I were able to depart quickly and together and know the other kids would be fed, and that the performer would get to her performance. Because yesterday was AppleApple’s Singer’s Theatre show. I’m sad to say her dad missed it altogether due to the medical crisis. I’d gotten to see the afternoon show, and it was so good. Those sweet sweet children. And my dancing daughter in her soccer head band. She’d come to the show straight from soccer (grilled cheese sandwiches eaten in the car on the way to the curtain call) and the head band stayed on. She was the only child on stage who looked like no one had bothered to brush her hair. No one had. It was beautifully brushed for the evening performance, which Kevin and I both missed, but thanks to quick planning and cellphones, both grandmas were able to attend.
And after all that, after a day that included a visit from the washer repairman, and two birthday parties, and bowling with Grandma Alice, and taking a cab (due to having only one vehicle), and two soccer games, and carpooling, and two performances, and a spot of Christmas shopping, and supper out, AND a trip to emerg, Kevin and I made it at last to the first holiday party of the year. Thank God for Grandmas. We were able to stay out as late as we wanted. And so we did. Ergo, today’s slow recovery.
I wore red high heels, borrowed from my sister Edna (come to think of it, she might not know I borrowed them from her … uh, thanks, Ed!).
There was a lot of dancing. It’s really the point of the party, which has become an annual tradition. This might be the fourth year we’ve gone …??? And every year it seems impossible that another year has passed and we’re back in this house crowded with friends, getting down. It’s kind of a good marker, the way birthdays are. You can remember yourself from year to year, note the changes. The first year we went I was nursing an eight-month-old. I was timid on the dance floor. Clearly timidity was a passing phase.
Not to get too philosophical, but dancing, oh, so good for the soul and the body. Every once in awhile you hit the perfect song, the perfect rhythm, there’s a mindless and perfect connection to the beat, and you’re just lost to the world. It’s a gift when it happens. If you feel like dancing, try this. And happy kick-off to the holidays, everyone.
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